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🗣️ "The Future of the One Water Ethic"

Water Foresight Podcast

Photo by Linus Nylund / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Matthew Klein
Guest: Cindy Wallis-Lage | President, Global Water Business | Black & Veatch
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:56] “I would hope that [by 2040] we would see a very united focus on water [instead of] the fragmentation that we currently have in our industry. […] We're very quick to segregate water into different areas. So it's wastewater, it's potable water, it's stormwater, it's reuse water, we have all types of definitions. And it all gives us an impression in our head as to whether that water is safe, whether that water is usable and we form probably a judgment on the drop.”

[1:57] “I think that we need to move to a position with a one water ethic that we are focused on […] the potential of the drop, not the history, but […] how we can utilize that drop for the best use in a community. How we [move] our thinking process and treating water with respect to a point that we're avoiding waste, and we're limiting contamination. We are stopping an attitude of entitlement at times. And [we need to stop] being reactive to what's happening to our infrastructure and how we address it [and] move […] to prioritizing water as a resource.”

[3:22] “All of that is really founded on a much stronger education and awareness of the critical, critical role that water plays in our society. And it plays it in so many ways that we don't typically give it credit for. We tend to just focus on its potable use or we may focus on a waterway that's near our home […] because of the aesthetics and the recreational value. But we don't give it nearly the […] credit for the foundational role that it plays in business and economic development, […] how much it drives our health, how much it drives the environment, and our ability to have that quality of life that we seek to have, that it drives energy, that drives food. And so every part of our being is going to be tied up with water and so if we can get to that one water ethic, we can then look at the drop in its value going forward and being very protective of that drop.”

[6:22] “[The biggest win would be if] water is no longer treated as a political element. […] Water is local. […] It's very hard to transport it. Some people have too much water, some people have too little water, that is a water cycle. That is a climate issue, which opens up a whole nother conversation. But nonetheless, we tend to make it political [in terms of] how we can justify being elected or not being a voice of the people […], we're going to keep the cost down. It becomes a trading tool that I don't think is appropriate. And what happens is […] those political cycles then will dictate investment. […] Now, that doesn't mean we don't have an affordability issue, because we do and we have to address that. But we do have to get to the point where we're not using […] water rates as a political chip. […] That's going to make a difference, I think, in our ability to look at water holistically long term, and really make the prioritization of investment that we have to do in a manner that's going to have long term resilience.”

[10:47] “What you also will see is to have the water analogy, the ripple effect, […] you're gonna see a community that [is] going to attract industry, […] new businesses, […] more jobs, not only the jobs with the water space, but those that it brings, because of the confidence in the water infrastructure. No business, no industry can move to a community unless they've got absolute certainty that they're going to have that resource there, because it costs too much to move into the community and then find out that [the water supply] is not reliable. […] We often talk about the value of water and I always state that […] water is priceless.”

[13:12] “I think one of the benefits [of the one water ethic is] lower costs to develop and maintain the infrastructure. And I say that because I believe you would then have more of a unifying force. I think that you would start to see some regionalization, consolidation of utilities. You may see some efficiencies that come from that. But you also have holistic planning. So you're looking again, at the drop, and all of the different ways we need to manage that drop, and making good investments. And I think the number one thing that you would get to is you would be proactive, instead of reactive, and reactive has such a high cost with it. And if we become a community of proactive determination of where we need to invest, we can plan it out appropriately. […] So I see that as a real opportunity if we can get that planning and connectivity right to be able to operate more efficiently.”

[22:44] “I think technology will allow us […] to not judge the history of the drop, but rather the job of the drop [and] focus on the potential. Technology is going to be able to take away the concern of the history, […] because we can treat anything and […] more effectively, efficiently reduce down our energy costs [and] increase the quality. […] [And we will] be able to understand in real time the quality of water and then how we can then manage and distribute that water. Those two coming together, I think, will make a huge difference on our ability to think holistically long term.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Google | Spotify
🕰️ 29 min | 🗓️ 05/05/2021
✅ Time saved: 27 min

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